It’s Puff Pastry Week at ENSP, and what’s not to love? Encasing a giant block of butter in dough, rolling it out and folding it three, four, five SIX times!!! It’s amazing…certainly a feat I’m often too lazy to accomplish back at home. The layers of butter made with each fold (or turn) create steam when baked, causing the dough to puff up in a dramatic buttery opus of pastry.
Here are some of the highlights:
Classic Millefeuille (or Napoleon): This French Patisserie staple is made by rolling out one large sheet of puff pastry dough and baking with cooling rack resting on top to prevent the dough from rising. This might sound counterintuitive since puff pastry is supposed to puff; but when flattened, it creates an incredible flakey crunch, perfect for layering. Three even rectangles are cut out of the baked puff pastry sheet and sandwiched between Mousseline Cream. The top is a white fondant with melted dark chocolate design. The result is quite elegant, even if it did take several attempts (and lots of splattered wet fondant!) to achieve.
The crunch on this pastry is like nothing you’ve ever tried. I’m eager to come home and make a more Americanized variation – perhaps even a savory version as well!
Next up was Chausson aux Pommes (Apple Turnovers): I’m sure most of you are familiar with these and they are unbelievably easy to make (if you buy frozen puff pastry, we’re talking 15 minutes prep time). We made a French apple compote (no cinnamon!) with sugar, chopped apples, butter and vanilla; spooned some into our cut out dough and sealed the edges with water. Viola!
We got a chance to make our very own Galette de Rois. This is a traditional French cake found at Patisseries throughout January to celebrate Epiphany. It’s essentially two rounds of puff pastry, sealed with the Frangipane (almond cream mixed with pastry cream) on the inside. There’s a fabulous tutorial on how to bake one here.
During the other eleven months out of the year when Galette des Rois is not available, patisseries offer Pithiviers. It is essentially the same pastry as the galette, but shaped in a flower with a classic swirl design on top. The recipe also only uses almond cream instead of the frangipane.
Note: our design looks more like a sun instead of a flower. Our chef admittedly hadn’t made pithiviers in a long time and instructed us wrong. Even the pros make mistakes!
We revisited tart week by making a classic Tarte Abricot (Apricot Tart) with a puff pastry base. We used canned poached apricots with leftover almond cream and a slight hit of pistachio paste to give a bolder flavor. It’s very simple, the trick being to leave a slight rim of excess puff pastry hanging over the edge of your tart ring (as pictured above). This is trimmed off halfway through baking to avoid any shrinking or uneven edges.
The final product was delicious but needed a crunch…pistachios perhaps? Expect to see a full recipe posted here in the coming months!
With leftover dough comes palmiers; little twists of sugar coated puff pastry create a crunchy, buttery cookie.
My favorite recipe of the week was Bouche a la Reine. These adorable little cups of puff pastry are made by sandwiching together two rolled out pieces of puff pastry dough, the top piece having a circle cut out of the center. When baked, they puff up to create a sturdy little bowl to host a world of different sweets or savories.
From modest mini chicken pot pies, to Chantilly Cream, Praline and apple (see below), this versatile recipe can be applied for any type of meal or event. I expect to use it a lot in the future.
Final buffet presentation